The game that was ranked number one on yesterday’s NBA schedule ended up being the most lopsided of the bunch. The Lakers, behind Pau Gasol‘s perfection, blew out the Warriors at Staples Center, and once again proved why they are the defending champions. Elsewhere, the Celtics lost in Toronto, the Hornets won again (check out James Grayson’s post-game thoughts as well), and the Pistons beat the Wizards in overtime.
There’s eight games on the schedule tonight, and in all honesty, there’s something intriguing about every single one of them. So let’s rank them from worst to best the best we can:
#8: Sacramento Kings (4-8) at Utah Jazz (9-5) – 9:00 PM ET, Regional
This should still be a pretty good game since the Kings took the Hornets to the limit last night. But again, when a team has to get up for a huge game one night, and then go on the road the next night, it’s a recipe for a blowout.
#7: Phoenix Suns (6-7) at Houston Rockets (3-9) – 8:30 PM ET, Regional
It’s been a while since a game between the Suns and Rockets has been this low on my viewability scale, but there’s just not much going on for either team right now. The Rockets have to get better at some point, and I could see them picking up a nice home win here.
#6: Minnesota Timberwolves (4-10) at Oklahoma City Thunder (9-4) – 8:00 PM ET, Regional
The matchup between Kevin Durant and Michael Beasley should be fun to watch, and that alone makes this game very watchable. Of course, you also get a chance to watch two of the top “glue” guys in the NBA, withKevin Love doing the dirty work down low for Minnesota, and Russell Westbrook doing it all for the Thunder.
#5: Indiana Pacers (5-6) at Miami Heat (8-5) – 7:30 PM ET, Regional
Even though the Pacers aren’t that good, they still show flashes of brilliance sometimes (see the 54-point quarter vs. Denver), and that accounts for something. Meanwhile, the Heat will be trying to figure out something with their frontcourt yet again, as Udonis Haslem suffered a foot injury that could keep him out until at least the All-Star break.
#4: Denver Nuggets (7-6) at Golden State Warriors (7-6) – 10:30 PM ET, Regional
I was pretty disappointed in the Warriors last night, as they were just awful defensively for pretty much the entire game. It seemed like they would go in and try to prove themselves as a possible West playoff team, but without David Lee, they just had no chance to do that. If you like offense, this is a must-watch because someone will probably reach the 125 mark.
#3: Boston Celtics (9-4) at Atlanta Hawks (8-5) – 7:00 PM ET, Regional
The Hawks have slowed down a little bit, and the Celtics have lost two straight, with the most recent of those two being a bad loss against the Raptors. But Rajon Rondo should be back in the lineup, and things should get a lot better for the Celtics.
#2: New Orleans Hornets (11-1) at Los Angeles Clippers (1-13) – 10:30 PM ET, Regional
Now I know what you’re thinking. How could I possibly put this lopsided battle this high in the rankings? Well, there’s just something about this game. You have arguably the best team in a league vs. the non-arguably worst team in the league. There’s so many possibilities there that it’s not even funny. If this were the NCAA, it would clearly be a blowout of mass proportions. But in the NBA, anything can happen, and we’ll see if the Clippers can do the unthinkable and beat the Hornets.
#1: Orlando Magic (9-3) at San Antonio Spurs (11-1) – 8:30 PM ET, NBA TV
This is easily the game of the night in the league, as these two teams both have championship hopes and have been playing like championship teams early in the season. Though it will probably be close, I find it hard to pick against the Spurs right now, as this team is clearly on a mission to do big things this season. The Spurs aren’t getting any younger, and this is their last chance to capture another NBA crown. Could this be a Finals preview? We’ll see.
What chance do you give the Clippers to win tonight vs. New Orleans?